Sandra Worth answers your questions!

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions and a BIG thanks to Sandra Worth for taking the time to answer them! As a reminder, Sandra’s latest book Pale Rose of England is available now!

From Rose:

1) a) Any idea of how Warbeck treated Catherine for the time they were together?

Catherine was known to be a beauty and evidently had a great deal of charm, if we look at the kind of men she married –- dashing and adventurous. I’m sure Warbeck was impressed and treated her in a deferential and courtly manner.

b) Any idea of how long they were actually together with each other?
That question is more complicated than it may seem at first glance. They were “together” as young lovers, and marrieds, for 22 months before being captured by Henry.
Perkin arrived in Scotland in late November 1495. They were married in January 1496, and their baby was born in September. After Perkin’s capture the following year, in September 1497, they were no longer “together” in the same sense. They lived in the palace together, and interacted together, but they had separate bedrooms and were both Henry’s captives, under his watchful eye. They were, for all intent and purposes, unavailable to each other. By this time, Warbeck was Henry’s rival in love as well as war. 

2) Does the author think that Catherine truly believed that Perkin Warbeck was actually Richard of York? (Personally: I suspect that he was probably one of Edward IV’s many 
bastard children — thus half-brother to the prince he was portraying)

I am convinced he was the real prince — for many reasons. Everyone involved acted as if they believed he was the true prince.
Catherine herself must have believed it. She married three husbands who had Yorkist backgrounds and affiliations, and wore black to the end of her life.
A bastard child would have had a history of some sort before 1483. However, despite Henry Tudor’s best efforts to unearth Perkin’s background, the boy seemed to have sprung up out of nowhere at the age of nine — in the care of Edward Brampton no less. The real prince was nine when he disappeared, and Brampton was a loyal Yorkist servant much trusted by Richard III who had knighted him — the first Jew to ever hold this honor.
It was Henry who gave him the name “Perkin Warbeck.” This young man had such a talent for music that he drove Henry VII’s poet laureate insane with jealousy. Interestingly, the young prince was also noted to have had an extraordinary gift for music. The odds that a pretender could be found who could play the role of a prince so flawlessly, who resembled Edward IV, and who had the talent displayed by the real little prince are so small as to be negligible.   
Henry VII himself behaved as if he believed Perkin Warbeck was the true prince. Here’s an example: he executed Perkin for treason. But the question how someone not born an Englishman could be executed for “treason” to an English king is rarely raised.   
Clearly, Maximilian of Austria and the monarchs of Spain believed Perkin was the true prince. Maximillian offered Henry anything he wanted just to get the young man back — money, treaties, anything he wished. More importantly, he offered to abdicate in perpetuity his rights to the throne of England for himself, his descendants, and for Perkin and his issue. This is not how kings behave.
As for Isabella and Ferdinand, they refused to send their daughter to be wed to Prince Arthur until “all the royal blood” of the Yorkist line was eliminated. The letter survives, and it’s clear that the language refers not only to Edward of Warwick, but to the pretender.

From Danny:

I was just wondering if you could ask Ms Worth if there is any truth
to the rumour that Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck were in the pay
of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) to over-throw Henry VII. I
emailed the guy who wrote “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” about his
sources and he never replied to me so I was wondering if there was
anything uncovered by Ms Worth. If she found nothing, I will
 challenge the other author’s sources.
This theory is new to me. I never came across it in my reading. 

From shtove:

How did you choose between first and third person narrative?

I began the book in first-person (from Catherine’s perspective) but at my editor’s request I changed it to third person. And I was happy to do so. For one thing, it’s much harder for an author to relay necessary information to the reader through only one person’s perspective. How many ways can one person know something? They can’t be everywhere, privy to everything, and everyone else’s thoughts and actions. A woman can’t go into battle, for example, so a battle scene would have been out of the question.
Third person is much richer — and easier, especially for a story that encompasses such breadth and depth. For example, Perkin’s flight, his torture, his personal anguish can’t be shown in first person from Catherine’s point of view. Catherine couldn’t have known all the details. That means the information would have been compressed, and “told”, rather than “shown” –- lessening the power of the story.
Personally, I always prefer third person. But when the female audience is eighty percent of the market, first person narrative from a female point of view has great allure for publishers.

From Marilyn (edited by Lara):

Does the author have input in the cover art for a book? And how do you
 feel about the current trend of “headless” covers and art that isn’t
 from the correct historical period for the book?

I can’t speak for all large NY houses, but my editor always allowed me to approve my covers. In two cases, the original cover art was out of period. In the case of PALE ROSE, the second cover was lovely, but a month after I approved it, I saw the same cover on another author’s book. So Penguin went back to the drawing board. The one that is on there now is the fourth cover they designed.
About the trend of “headless” women — well, I can tell you my husband doesn’t like the headless look! He cracked a comment each time. But “headless” has its advantages. I’m guessing here, but I think it can achieve an important aim for a publisher. People have different ideas of beauty, so a girl that one person thinks is lovely may not be beautiful to someone else. The headless cover eliminates that problem, widening the market of those who find the creature on the cover interesting. If you don’t see the whole face, your imagination will fill in your own idea  of beauty. That’s my feeling, but who knows for sure?
From Foose:

I have some questions regarding the author’s researches into Catherine 
Gordon, the wife of Perkin Warbeck.

 Novels I have read on this topic often state that she was the 
daughter of a Scottish princess; however, historians usually note that 
there is some question whether she was indeed that closely related to
the Scots king or actually the daughter of another wife of her
 father’s. Did you find any new evidence and did you incorporate it
 into your novel?
Lady Catherine’s biographers have pointed out that her identity is as questionable as her husband’s. Was Lady Catherine the daughter of Huntly’s third wife, Annabella Stuart, daughter of James I, and therefore a Scottish princess? Or was she the daughter of Huntly’s fourth wife, Elizabeth Hay? This has been described as “dramatically diminishing the status of Perkin’s proferred bride.” However, as noted by Lady Catherine  two most recent biographers, Elizabeth Hay should not be dismissed so hastily. She was descended from two daughters of King Robert II, and that made Lady Catherine Gordon close kin to James IV, and royal — though perhaps not quite as royal as having as her mother the Princess Annabella.   

The synopsis of your story posits a child of Catherine and Perkin
 Warbeck, whereas the histories I have looked at indicate there was no 
child (and this was one reason she was kept alive by Henry VII). Did
you find other evidence? Or was this a plot-driven consideration?
This was not a plot-driven device. The events of this period were so highly politicized that not much is known with absolute certainty, but there were rumors, stories, and references to one child, and possibly two. For more details, I refer you to Ann Wroe’s comprehensive biography entitled THE PERFECT PRINCE.
Catherine appears never to have returned to Scotland. Did you find 
any evidence that she wanted to, that the Scots 
government or her family requested her return, or that she was kept in 
England against her will?
James IV seems to have tried to gain her freedom, and it seems that Perkin begged for her to be sent home, but many years later, Henry Tudor wouldn’t allow her within a hundred miles of the Scottish border. Whether it was her wish to return to Scotland, we can never know, since no letters or diaries have survived to give us a glimpse into her mind and heart.  If the rumors of a son were true, she may not have wanted to leave her abducted child behind. This is the scenario I chose to portray in PALE ROSE OF ENGLAND.

Lara pointed out in a query several years ago that Catherine had
 three husbands subsequent to Perkin. Did you find any information on 
how these husbands were chosen, whether they were imposed upon her by 
the Tudor monarch or government, or if she had some say in selecting 
them herself?
Oh, yes, there is no doubt about it — these were all love matches! After Henry VII’s death, Catherine retired to an estate he bequeathed her near Oxford. Henry VIII had no interest in the woman his father had loved, so Catherine had complete freedom to do as she wished. A year or so later she married her second husband.
All three of her husbands — and maybe even Perkin Warbeck —  were her choice, for better or worse. It is quite a tribute to Lady Catherine Gordon that she made four marriages for love in a time when men controlled the destiny of women.


  1. If Henry VII believed that Perkin Warbeck was the true prince and thus had him executed, how did that go over with Perkin’s supposed sister, Elizabeth, wife to Henry VII?

    Or did he tell her Perkin was an imposter? But then, couldn’t she have known herself if Perkin was her brother or not?


  2. Gilda,

    According to several sources I read (maybe all) Elizabeth of York was not permitted to have any contact with Perkin. That in itself is strange, because if Perkin was a fraud, she could have verified that for Henry. Perkin and Edward of Warwick were executed (within five days of one another). Based on Elizabeth’s comment after Arthur’s death that “We can have more children”, a historian has suggested that Elizabeth had banished Henry from her bed after the executions.

    I hope this helps. The full scenario is in the book, and there is a lengthy Author’s Note for those as interested in the subject as you are.


    Everyone thinks it’s because he executed

  3. Thanks to Sandra for the answer to the 1st/3rd person narrative question.

    The youtube promo is excellent – anyone know the music?

  4. Glad you like the music, Shtove.
    The piece was especially written for my video based on Mozart’s “Lacrymosa” – “stripped down with some modern elements, but also retaining the classical format in Mozart’s original. with a variation” (according to the composer- the singing is also her voice). If you like it, it’s available for download on, scroll down to the widget, click “Extras” then “Download Lacrimosa Pale Rose Mix” (the widget is below the cover and takes a moment to load.

  5. Clarification- that’s the composer’s quote, hence the quotation marks. And she’s the one singing.

  6. Thank you for the responses to my questions, Sandra! After seeing your answer, I had a look at Letters & Papers and there is indeed a notation in there for June 1517, granting “Dame Katherine Gordon, widow” the manor of Frylsham “provided that she do not quit England for Scotland or any other foreign country.” There’s a certain similarity to Anne of Cleves’ case, although at least Perkin Warbeck’s widow was able to remarry.

    I look forward to reading your book. And I definitely will take another look at Ann Wroe’s book.

  7. I think Perkin Warbeck is an anagram of Prince Richard and Lambert Simnel is an anagram of Prince Edward.I think the d and b were swopped and the m and w to mislead the enemy. Almost all the letters for Edward are in one anagram and almost all the letters for Richard are in the other.Also all the letters for prince is in one of the anagrams. Elizabeth Woodville would have had time to do these anagrams in sanctuary. Also there are 13 letters in Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck. The Richard and Warbeck anagram leaves the letters Rich and 3 letters linked which could mean Richard 111. There are 9 letters taken from one name in one anagram and 8 in the other. I would really like to know what you think about this.

  8. According to the story, Catherine never knew how badly her husband was beaten after his second escape attempt. Is this historically accurate? I find it very hard that no one would mention this to her.

  9. Where was Perkin Warbeck buried ?
    Can we DNA test to establish if he really was Richard Duke of York?

  10. I have just been reading a comment left by Ruth 25.11.2013 as to where was Perkin Warbeck buried so that it might be possible to test for DNA to establish if Perkin Warbeck was the Duke of York this could be com pared to Richard III s dna and thus prove, I feel that, Richard did not murder the Princes in the Tower.

  11. Did Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Woodville ever support Perkin Warbeck? Elizabeth Woodville had only two years left to live when he decided to try for a claim to the throne, but what about her reaction, did she ever meet him?

  12. Desiree Donahoe

    If Perkins Warbeck has descendants or claimed descendants and now that they have found Richard the thirds remains and have his D N A why doesn’t someone do a test to see if Perkins was the monarch

  13. Is it known what happened to the child of Warbeck and Katherine and are their any remaining family today?

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